Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Heavy Metal Memories

Kizer Cemetery, Cortez, PA (front)

“You’re dead, you’re done, in the ground you’ll sink.
But we’ll mark your grave with a monument of zinc.”
---CallMeTaphy

Kizer Cemetery, Cortez, PA (back)

My dad has been waiting for this blog since I started writing them.  I remember the first zinc monument I showed him in a cemetery---he didn’t believe me that it was made of metal, not stone---until I knocked on it and it rang like a bell.  Since then, he is always on the lookout for the telltale light blue-grey color of a zinc monument.  

The Monumental Bronze Company in Bridgeport, CT, started making “white bronze” tombstones and monuments in 1875.  They called them “white bronze” because they thought it sounded classier than “zinc.”  M.A. Richardson was the first to realize the lasting quality of a zinc monument, which oxidizes when exposed to air, producing that unique color.  But it does not degrade due to harsh elements like heat, cold, coal-burning factories or acid rain.  Richardson partnered with several other men, who organized the Monumental Bronze Company in 1874 to create a durable cemetery memorial.  From 1875 to 1912, the company produced and sold many varieties of tombstones and monuments through their salesmen who lived in all parts of the country.  They established a subsidiary in Detroit in 1881, and advertised their product as affordable for everyone.  A “white bronze” memorial cost anywhere from $6.00 to $5,000, and could be made highly personal with a variety of motifs and inscriptions. Other plants were established in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Ontario, Des Moines and Chicago.

But the public seemed to think cemetery monuments made of metal were tacky.  Most Victorian cemeteries have one or two, but granite and marble memorials usually dominate the landscape.  In cemeteries where a half dozen or more zinc monuments reside provides a clue that a zealous salesman was hard at work in his neighborhood, hawking the benefits of zinc monuments to friends and relatives.  

And yet, even though “white bronze” was not wholly embraced by late 19thth century society, perhaps the Zincs have the final laugh. century and early 20  They endure, just like their manufacturers said they would.  The only problem Zincs face is “creep;” they are very heavy and are hollow in the center, and if the ground under them subsides, the monument will “creep,” tipping into the subsidence.  They may develop cracks, resulting in the metal actually breaking.  The best Zincs I have seen sit firmly on a concrete pad, on solid ground.

There have been tales that Zincs were a moonshiner’s best friend during Prohibition; some of the larger monuments have panels on them that unscrew, and, since the centers are hollow, it could be a perfect spot for concealing the hooch.  Like my dad says, there usually is some degree of truth in every tall tale.  So perhaps it happened, somewhere.  I have never found any evidence of this, however.

The smallest Zincs I have found are simple markers that resemble footstones.  The largest are war memorials and family plot markers.  I always knock on them after I am done photographing them, maybe to say hello to the deceased, maybe to salute the durability of zinc and the ingenuity of Richardson and Monumental Bronze.  The company stopped producing memorials in 1912, though they continued making zinc castings for radios and automobiles, until the owners dissolved the company in 1939.  There must be a company somewhere that can help me out and make those bed tombstones for my parents out of zinc……….

Here are two links for Monumental Bronze catalog images and advertisements.  




Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA

Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA

Montgomery Baptist Cemetery, Montgomeryville, PA

Moscow Cemetery, Moscow, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

East Canaan Cemetery, South Canaan, PA (front)

East Canaan Cemetery, South Canaan, PA(back)

East Canaan Cemetery, South Canaan, PA (front)

East Canaan Cemetery, South Canaan, PA (back)

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA (front)

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA (back)

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA (front)

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA (back)

Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA (back)

Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA (front)

Raubsville Cemetery, Raubsville, PA (side)


Raubsville Cemetery, Raubsville, PA (front)

GAR Memorial, Moscow Cemetery, Moscow, PA


Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA


Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA

Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA


Dalton Shoemaker Cemetery, Dalton, PA

Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA


My Favorite---East Canaan Cemetery, South Canaan, PA

East Canaan Cemetery, South Canaan, PA


Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA


Equinunk Cemetery, Equinunk, PA


Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA


Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA


Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA


GAR Monument, Gettysburg, PA

Gelatt Cemetery, Gelatt, PA (front)

Gelatt Cemetery, Gelatt, PA (back)

Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA


Salem Cemetery, Hamlin, PA


Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA


Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA


Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA

Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA


Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA


Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA


Lamb Cemetery, Jackson, PA


Pentagon-Shaped, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA


Biggest I Ever Saw, Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA


Montgomery Baptist Cemetery, Montgomeryville, PA


Newtown Cemetery, Newtown, PA


Riverside Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA


South Canaan Cemetery, South Canaan, PA


South Gibson Cemetery, South Gibson, PA

South Montrose Cemetery, South Montrose, PA


St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, Honesdale, PA


St. Ann's Cemetery, Tobyhanna, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA


Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA


Lamb Cemetery, Jackson, PA


Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA


St. Paul's UCC, Swiftwater, PA


Tannersville Union Cemtery, Tannersville, PA (back)


Tannersville Union Cemetery, Tannersville, PA (front)

Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA


Madisonville Union Cemetery, Madisonville, PA


Prompton Cemetery, Prompton, PA


Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA


Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA


Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA

Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA


Daleville Cemetery, Daleville, PA


Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA


Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA


Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

East Swamp Mennonite, Quakertown, PA (front)

East Swamp Mennonite, Quakertown, PA (back)


Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA


Salem Cemetery, Hamlin, PA

Salem Cemetery, Hamlin, PA


Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA


Hollisterville Cemetery, Hollisterville, PA

Hollisterville Cemetery, Hollisterville, PA

Indian Orchard Cemetery, Indian Orchard, PA (front)

Indian Orchard Cemetery, Indian Orchard, PA (back)


Indian Orchard Cemetery, Indian Orchard, PA


Jeffersonville Presbyterian, Jeffersonville, PA


Montgomery Baptist Cemetery, Montgomeryville, PA


Montgomery Baptist Cemetery, Montgomeryville, PA

Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA


Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA

Moscow Cemetery, Moscow, PA


Nockamixon Union, Ferndale, PA

Nicholson Cemetery, Nicholson, PA


Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Pine Grove Cemetery, Thornhurst, PA


St. Luke Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ferndale, PA


St. Mark's Lutheran Cemetery, Appenzell, PA


St. Thomas Whitemarsh Cemetery, Fort Washington, PA


Stockport Cemetery, Stockport, PA

Tannersville Union Cemetery, Tannersville, PA (front)

Tannersville Union Cemetery, Tannersville, PA (back)

Trumbauersville Cemetery, Trumbauersville, PA


East Swamp Mennonite, Quakertown, PA (front)

East Swamp Mennonite, Quakertown, PA (back)

Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA

Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA


Bed Tombstone, East Bangor Cemetery, East Bangor, PA


Riverview Cemetery, Portland, PA


2 comments:

KB said...

Found some family among your Montgomery County stones. Thank you!

NYCLOAMR said...

Recently discovered these cool looking metal markers while visiting Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Tarrytown NY. I have been photographing them as I find them and uploading them to my deviantart account. I also started a photography group for Monumental Bronze Co. monuments. The link is here: http://monumental-bronze.deviantart.com/ Thank you for the interesting read!